What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Susan Smallsreed of Multnomah County Library.
Starr Carter wasn’t supposed to be at Big D’s annual party. If mom or dad knew, she’d be grounded for life … or worse. But she hadn’t hung out with Kenya for months ’cause Starr moves between two worlds: the fancy Williamson prep, a mostly white, rich, suburban school, and Starr’s neighborhood, Garden Heights, where gangs fight over turf and drug dealing is a way of life. Anyway, with basketball practice, school work, and parents that won’t let her near the gangs, Starr doesn’t hang out much in the neighborhood anymore.
But Kenya begged, so Starr went to the party and it was HUGE. Starr hardly knew anyone and felt totally out of place until Khalil, her best friend from childhood, found her. And a couple of minutes later they had picked up where they left off, laughing and talking. But then shots rang out. Khalil got her out of the crowd and into his car to drive her home. But halfway there, a cop … badge number 115 … Starr made a point to remember that … pulled them over. And before she knew it, Khalil was dying in her arms and she had a gun pointing at her.
One white cop, one dead young black man, one witness. Should Starr talk? To whom? The gangs don’t want the police sniffing around and the police don’t want anyone to know that Khalil was unarmed. So it’s dangerous, no matter what. But what about justice for Khalil? What should Starr do? What would you do?